If you just happen to visit Embaracadero Hall on a Saturday night, you might be surprised to hear peals of laughter ringing around the room as groups of students sit entranced by a lineup of tirelessly hilarious standup comics. This is Isla Vista Standup, a free weekly show devised by current and former students to provide another unique and fun activity for students looking for an entertaining way to spend their Saturday evenings, besides getting piss drunk and laughing at their own misfortune.
The show involves standup performances by UCSB students and other Santa Barbara locals, as well as national headliners such as John Roy, Darren Carter, and Skylar Stone, all of whom performed at renowned L.A. comedy clubs as well as on Comedy Central. While not as well known as the more commercialized Carlos Mencia or Sarah Silvermen, they are just as good (if not better) than these well known comics, and by far experts in their comic style; during the shows they never fail to make their audience roar with laughter.
The idea for I.V. Standup came together through three Santa Barbara comedians â€“ Jeff Urea, a current UCSB student, Alfonso Ochoa (currently on tour and no longer running the program), and Andrey Belikov, a local comedian who has been involved with comedy for years and knows his way around the comic scene. He has been the one most responsible
for bringing the â€œunderground legendsâ€ of the comedy world to Isla Vista.
â€œThere are only about 100 top headliners working in the country; pop into a Laugh Factory, Comedy Store, or the Hollywood IMPROV show on any night and over half the comics you will see have already done our shows,â€ he explains, â€œYou arenâ€™t getting Jamie Kennedy, you arenâ€™t getting Sarah Silverman, you arenâ€™t getting Carlos Mencia – youâ€™re getting something way better – comics that donâ€™t need laugh tracks.â€
It started with co-producer and UCSB student Jeff Urea thinking that Embarcadero Hall would be the perfect setup for a comedy show. After getting involved with Andrey and Alfonso a little over a year ago, who were also interested in producing standup shows, they decided to pursue the idea of getting Isla Vista its own performances. It turned out to be a great idea. The idea they came up with was unusual for a college standup show; they wanted it to be professionally run, in a decent location, and still easily accessible to the student population.
Isla Vista offered such rare accommodations, making it a perfect spot to bring top notch comedians and the community together. Jeff created Comics Anonymous, an OSL group that was able to request funding through AS and reserve Embaracadero Hall on Saturday nights. After a failed attempt to charge students $10 for each show, AS came to their rescue and helped them make it free to all students and still be able to pay for the headliners. Thus the perfect setup for one of the most unique college-run standup shows was born.
â€œWhen a comic is being booked by another comic â€“ and into a fun room with a good reputation and professionally run, you get something very unique happening where headliners will pack into a car and drive for two hours just to have fun,â€ Andrey remarks, â€œWhat makes IV Stand Up so unique is that its the only place outside of New York or LA where you can see so many Headliners up on the same ticket! And thanks to A.S. that ticket is free.â€
Along with these headliners, every week Andrey, Jeff, and other UCSB students flex their comedic muscles, with generally great responses from the crowd. Regular performers are UCSB student Greg Pappas, local SB resident James Walsh, city bus driver Jim Eaton, and members of Improvability such as Jace Armstrong and Stefan Thom, all of whom, while not always as experienced as the headliners, sometimes stay closer to college students tastes, and never disappoint. These comedians all perform on the same night, leaving Isla Vistans with an altogether unforgettable experience, seeing so many hilarious acts at the same show.
IV Standup offers students both a wonderful chance to escape the repetitiveness of a normal night of inebriation and craziness which still fulfills the average students need to escape the normal humdrum activities of the week, and get a large dose of clever, crude, and sometimes philosophical experiences to boot. It provides students and community members a place to put on their Standup shoes and test out their skills as a comedian. Certainly this program has brought something very unique and worthwhile to the Isla Vista scene â€“ something not at all easy to find anywhere else in the country.
â€œNot only do we want to advance UCSBâ€™s academic reputation by providing students with an occasional alternative to binge drinking, but we also want to contribute to the arts and culture within Isla Vista, as well as advance stand up as an art form and make fans out of as many people as possible,â€ Belikov says in regards to the overall goals of IV Standup. Not only do we get free top of the line entertainment to hold us over for another week, we get the chance to dive into the lesser known comedians that are currently showcasing their incredible talents without commercial publicity.
â€œImagine seeing Dave Chapelle before he had the Chapelle Show, or George Lopez before Latin Kings of Comedy, Seinfeld before Seinfeld â€“ thatâ€™s the kind of show youâ€™re getting at I.V. Stand Up, future legends at their prime.â€
Reception from students has been great since AS helped remove the $10 ticket, and Jeff and Andrey plan to continue providing the best comedy around to our community for as long as they can. â€œWe plan to have a show every Saturday this quarter, and next year as well,â€ Jeff affirmed, â€œHowever, we really want to give a shout out to how much A.S. Finance Board and IVCRC has helped us, and how important it is to have the student initiative so that groups like us can keep doing what we are doing.â€
Next time youâ€™re thinking about spending another Saturday night at the bottom of a bottle, consider this truly amazing alternative â€“ I can guarantee youâ€™ll be laughing harder than you ever did whilst drunk, at a much lesser cost.
IV Standup starts at 8:00PM every Saturday in Embarcadero Hall. For more information about upcoming performances visit http://www.myspace.com/ivcomedy.